USA, Bravo Capture Criminal Intent

As expected, NBC Universal opted to keep the cable-syndication deal for Law & Order: Criminal Intent inside its own corporate family, but this wasn't exactly a sweetheart deal.

The media giant's USA Network and Bravo are paying top dollar for off-net rights to the third Law & Order, produced by Dick Wolf's Wolf Films and NBC Universal Television Studio. The cable networks will pay about $2 million per episode for the crime drama, making it one of cable's richest syndication deals ever.

Spike TV recently ponied up $1.9 million per episode to buy reruns of CSI: N.Y., which airs on its sister network CBS and distributed by King World.

USA already repurposes weekly episodes of Law & Order: CI and also airs off-nets of Law & Order: SVU. Under the new deal, which kicks off in late 2005, USA will run Law & Order: CI on weekdays and Bravo gets weekend plays.

In another, albeit smaller, cable syndication deal, A&E is buying reruns of Fox's cult drama 24 from 20th Television for about $225,000 per episode. Due to ongoing stories, a drama like 24 doesn't repeat as well as closed-ended programs like Law & Order or CSI, and that brings the syndicated price down dramatically. Tribune's WGN Superstation is also getting a piece of the spy drama. Both A&E and WGN will begin airing episodes next fall.